Since Bahrain joined the Formula 1 calendar in 2004, eight drivers have recorded first lap retirements at Bahrain International Circuit. We take a look at who has previously been out on the opening lap in Bahrain.
2006: Christijan Albers
Christijan Albers’ Bahrain Grand Prix was over before it really got started in 2006. As the starting lights went out, the Midland driver failed to make it away from the grid with the rest of the pack. Suffering a hydraulic issue, the Dutch driver was at least able to get back to the garage but was forced into retirement.
2007: Jenson Button and Scott Speed
The 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix was the first race in Bahrain in which two drivers retired on the opening lap. At Turn 4, Jenson Button and Scott Speed were caught up in two separate incidents. While Speed was hit by Christijan Albers, Button was squeezed between two other cars. The incidents brought out the Safety Car and ended both the Honda and Toro Rosso drivers’ afternoons.
2008: Sebastian Vettel
2008 was the third season in a row in which a driver retired on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix. For the second year in a row, a Toro Rosso driver was out on Lap 1. This year, Sebastian Vettel was the unlucky driver whose afternoon came to an early end. Vettel made contact on the first lap on two separate occasions and eventually came to a halt half way around the lap.
2020 Bahrain Grand Prix: Romain Grosjean
It would be twelve years before the next retirement on Lap 1 at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Romain Grosjean suffered one of the most dramatic crashes in the modern era of Formula 1 on the opening lap of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Making contact with Daniil Kvyat, the Haas driver crashed into the barriers, his car breaking through the barrier and setting alight. Grosjean was lucky to escape the fire relatively unharmed. This would be Grosjean’s last appearance in F1. He was unable to compete in the final two races of the season and his contract was not renewed for the following year.
2020 Sakhir Grand Prix: Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc
You wait twelve years for a first lap retirement and then three come along at once. Just a week after Grosjean’s accident, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc crashed out on the opening lap of the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The race was held on the Outer Loop layout of the circuit. At Turn 4, Leclerc made contact with Sergio Perez. Perez dropped to the back of the field – but would go on to win the race – while Leclerc was out on the spot. Meanwhile, Verstappen crashed out of the race in an attempt to avoid the incident.
2021: Nikita Mazepin
Nikita Mazepin suffered embarrassment at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix. Making his F1 debut, Mazepin crashed out of the race of his own accord just three corners into the Grand Prix. Mazepin was the first driver to retire on the first lap of his Formula 1 career in almost 20 years.
Drivers who did not make the first lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix
In addition to the drivers above, there are five drivers who failed to start the race in Bahrain:
2005 – Christian Klien
2015 – Jenson Button
2016 – Sebastian Vettel
2016 – Jolyon Palmer
2017 – Stoffel Vandoorne
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.